Question: How can we become humble?

Answer: Act as if you were humble, even if you are not. There isn't another way to become pleasant and humble.

Rude People

Question: What can we do with rude people?

Answer: We should ignore them until they become kind people.


Question: Who's a sankirtaner?

Answer: A hero who doesn't hesitate making sacrifices in order to others can join the spiritual family.


Question: What can we do with prasadam remains?

Answer: Find a person or animal who wants to eat them.

The Best Preacher

Question: Who's the best preacher?

Answer: The one who always leaves an audience with an enthusiastic example.

The Best Temple

Question: Which is the best temple?

Answer: A place where the devotees lovingly worship and where they are able to spread these spirit onto people who visit this place.

Being in Vrindavan

Question: How can we be always in Vrindavan?

Answer: Try to turn the place where you serve into another


Question: What's femenine?
Answer: The nature of our souls. The tendency to serve. Tenderness,
love, care.
The glory of the mother. The fortune of feeling like
serving the Original Enjoyer. The part of God that
allows us to get close to Him. The great strength of faith and love.
The unexpected part of the Lord that even conquers Himself.

Vaisnava Studies

Question: What should be study?

Answer: You should study how to serve better and how to preach better lines up with fulfilled souls like my spiritual master, Srila Prabhupada.

Soul Happiness

Question: What does our soul happy?

Being active in the uninterested loving service.
Srila B.A. Paramadvaiti Swami answers new questions from

The Golden Age and Hardened Hearts

Question: My question is about the Golden Age of the Kali Yuga, which I have read a little about. My concern is founded upon the sad state of the world, with so many countries run by madmen or fanatics, where devotees of Krishna cannot safely or even legally teach about Krishna. And even here in the US, there is often very little interest because people are so hardened by the atmosphere of vice and ignorance that their hearts cannot open to hear.
Thank you very much for your time

Answer: We are simply the carriers of the message of love of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. All rights are reserved by the Supreme Lord. He is the supreme controller of everything. Even though it may be difficult to spread this message of transcendental loving service in the age of Kali, it is still the foremost duty and pleasure of a devotee to do so. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu predicted that eventually the Holy Name of the Lord will be heard in every town and village around the world. We do not have to worry about success or failure of our efforts. Everything is already arranged.

In the Bhagavad-Gita it is stated that Arjuna was given the order to fight, without being concerned about the results of the battle, by Lord Sri Krishna Himself. Everything was already arranged by the Lord. Arjuna just had to fulfill his duty; to stand up and fight.

Making efforts to spread the universal message of love in this age of Kali can be compared to a battle. This age of Kali is full of unlimited faults. Actually it is compared to an ocean of faults. But the Lord as Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu provided the great opportunity to get free from the contamination of Kali-yuga: simply chant the Hare Krishna maha mantra, Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. This mantra will naturally reveal all good qualities and eliminate all bad qualities of the persons involved in the process.

Do not be surprised if there are a lot of obstacles in the way of your preaching activities, rather be surprised if somebody takes up the path of spiritual life. We are spirit souls surrounded by the kingdom of Maya. Do not be attached to the results of your activities. Good association, a sincere heart and strong determination will help us to make our lives successful.

Varshana - The Mother Temple of Vrinda

Question: We would be very enthusiastic to hear about the story of Sri Sri Gouranga Radha Brajeshvara.

Answer: Welcome to Varsana, this farm is situated one hour from Bogota in the beautiful, emerald colored mountains in the beautiful Andes. The farm offers a wonderful panoramic view over the valley where Fusagasuga can be seen.

Varsana is the mother temple of our mission. In 1980 by the mercy of Sri Sri Gour Nitay, the first deities of Colombia, Krishna revealed this place where He wanted to manifest His pastimes. 2400 meters above the sea level the first Radha Krishna temple of Colombia was constructed and their lordships Sri Sri Guru Gouranga Radha Vrajesvara made their appearance in 1983, during the day of Narasimha caturdasi.

The great vaisnava Srila Harijan Swami, first sannyasi of Colombia, established the first school of Bhakti Yoga for the training of new leaders of the mission. Practically all leaders of the Vrinda mission in Colombia received their training there. The beauty of the place is unique. The local government of Colombia declared the temple as a national monument.

The temple is situated at the Panamerican highway that crosses all the continent. On the other side of the highway there is Govinda's Restaurant, parking lots and stands selling handicrafts made by devotees.

Years of hard work of countless devotees formed Varsana into the best place for spiritual retreats you can dream of, with the samadhi of Srila Harijan Swami, a spacious guest house and the large event hall with a professional stage for festivals. Wonderful gardens surround the originally constructed temple built in the architectural style of Rajastan. Behind this temple there is a gigantic kitchen for festivals with the capacity of feeding even 1000 people on sacred days. Above that kitchen there is the Gallery of Conscious Art and the festival hall for yoga and events provinding a favourable place for the frequently visiting Inbound Yoga groups. The organic gardens and the beautiful forests full of native trees add to the propituous atmosphere.

In the heart of the farm the construction of the yoga planetarium has already started. The 18 temples will be constructed in the style of the famous Trulys, representing all platforms of consciousness and dimensions of the vedic cosmology.

We are planning to build a beautiful temple for their lordships. A place for vedic education. We ask all members of the Vrinda mission to be enthusiastic about that project and to help constructing it as their lordships are the isthadeva for the whole Vrinda family. We have to be proud from all our heart to help in the construction of at least one of the Trulys, and in this way be part of the project.

Our Madhusudan Maharaj from Ecuador is supervising the construction with a lot much enthusiasm. Also to compensate the beautiful temple of Guru Gouranga Radhika Gopinath in Quito which was donated by prabhu Sudhama.

Passing the temple we arrive at the park called 'Krishna the Conqueror of all Obstacles', but first, at the right side, there is the beautiful Visnupriya ashram, 2 houses and the school for small children.

At the other side the artistic studios and the large guest house is situated. The park of art includes a wonderful theater, with a beautiful sight at the formation of rocks full of natural caves, that I discovered many years ago, to make wonderful artistic installations unique in its genre.

The artist's studio can be found there too. By crossing all these areas we come to the way that leads us to the Imlitala at the right side. Imlitala is another house where the devotees produce art and cook deliciously. There are some houses of grihasthas who take care of that area as well as beautiful mountains and a temascal, used for Inbound Yoga retreats. Varsana has great potential, is the center where, once again, we can go deeper into our efforts to become humble in this life.

Varsana is my personal offering to my spiritual master. Not only as a place of spiritual retreats, but rather as cradle of all temples of Colombia and in the world of the Vrinda mission. I don't have so much time to be there as I would like to, but I trust that the devotees who always pay attention to Varsana, continue to protect the purity of the purpose, even in the time after I have left this material body; and that is difficult.

When something is very beautiful and works fine, problems will come too. But don't worry, nothing bad happens without a good reason. All problems exist so we can grow spiritually. Finally we are devotees of the essence, not of any form. Varshana is an artistic devotional offering, without the contamination of private property, and it is my desire that this beautiful farm continues being the main program in order to be able to train excellent devotees so that they can lead Sri Caitanya's mission wherever they might go later.

When I think of Varsana, I also think of all my loyal supporters that have been helping me all those years so that Krishna consciousness is becoming really better every day, more consacrated.

To all of them, like the sannyasis headed by B.V. Vamana Maharaj, the renounced matajis, the devotees giving protection to all aspects of a growing movement and all the temple presidents that practically carry my responsability to take care of the devotees. To all of them I express my love from the heart, the gratitude on behalf of my spiritual master to make and defend a beautiful mission in Colombia despite the civil war that has been afflicting Colombia for so many years already.
This difficult situation makes the work of all of you even more glorious. I pray to Krishna that you can become completely attached to the holy name of Krishna, and that you can expand the name of Krishna in all directions and one day we all come together in Varsana to watch the sweetness of our lords. All readers of this message are wholeheartedly invited to come to Varshana to the festivals with the desire to purify themselves and to get inspiration from our lordships. The yoga monastery is a place of shelter. It is not a material shelter, it is a shelter where one can learn how to get out of this material world.

The Yamuna river of Varsana is an extraordinary phenomenon. It is like a subterranean river that appears from the subsoil immediately in the form of a substantial river. I have never seen anything like that in my life anywhere else.

Very close to Varsana there is our future clinic of prabhu Pandava Vijay, the atma clinic is situated in the mountainous region of Silvania, surrounded by 30 hectares of beautiful tropical forest, 30 minutes away from our yoga monastery named Vrindavanita.

Vrindavanita is the training place for the new devotees. It is a yoga monastery which is distinguished by its devotees that travel all over the country spreading the holy name.

The beauty of Vrindavanita is undescribable; you have to visit it. Really, the area around Bogota has been blessed by Lord Krishna. There is also the Rupanuga bhajan ashram in the mountains of La Calera. There, Sridhar Maharaj, our architect, has a beautiful rural place accessable by a 2 hours walk from the Gour Nitay temple in the center of the city, passing by the beautiful mountains which ends in front of Bogota with the church of Monserrat. Countless ways to preach Lord Krishna are there, including some great preaching in the National University by the Vrindavan Alliance.

At the time of the opening of the Ecotruly yoga planetarium in Varsana, we are going to invite all of South America to come to the inauguration ceremony. Again I ask everybody in the world to help us according to their possibilities to build this beautiful jewel of Vaisnava architecture, always when such an effort is made it is challenge against Maya, but Maya doesn't keep quiet.

We are so happy to be part of that artistic work that is not going to raise the envy of the people because actually is an artistic and cultural offering. We do not have a plan to increase the residential areas a lot, because the temple we want, is the temple in the hearts of everybody, without payment of taxes, rent, etc.

Spota Vada

Question: What is spota vada?

Answer: Spota vada means the inner meaning of something. Beyond the sound of a thing is the real meaning, which is only revealed in the heart. That is why we need mercy to understand any spritual message. Only by grace the understanding of spota vada is transferred from the speaker to the listener.

Srila B.A. Paramadvaiti Swami answers new questions from

A Letter to Volunteers

Dear volunteers,

for the last thirty years we have been striving to establish a synthesis of the dire need of mother earth and the thirst for harmony in all of us.

The south american challange to establish ecological communities with the help of the yoga lifestyle as we have learned in India, has been a wonderful experience. Both locals from different South American countries and our international volunteers blend nicely into an enthusiastic team.

A healthy, deep and meaningful life is our goal for all. We need many helping hands and I think I can safely guarantee you a rewarding experience. Help us to help others is the principle and thus also help yourself.

In my travels throughout this wonderful continent, meeting so many wonderful people, the contagious enthusiasm has allowed us to start yoga monasteries with eco(logical) farms and many educational programms along the Andean route. You can actually make a tour of volunteering in our different locations as you travel through South America. Our projects are true pioneering projects and as you reach each destination we will figure out what is the best help you can render according to your talents.

I want to be very sincere with you to make your stay with us entirely happy. We keep strict regard for our brother animals and thus follow a strict vegetarian diet. Also we don't want any intoxication and extramarital relationships going on while you are in a volunteer relationship in any of our places.

We are excited to share with you the many wonderful activities we engage in, such as learning how to cook vegetarian food, cultivating the land, planting trees, make flower decorations, yoga, constructing cabins, receiving visitors, playing drums, studying vedic scriptures, organizing fire sacrifices, playing music, making handicrafts from bamboo or tagua and so much more.

You can start in the Sierra Nevada in Colombia and live there in a cogi-style hut, and go all the way down to Argentinga, where in General Rodriguez we have an Inbound Center with a wonderful art department.

You can obtain our Inbound Yoga Tour CD-ROM and you will get an idea how many wonderful places there are. I especially recommend the ecological garden Vrindavan in Banos, Ecuador which is in the middle of the rain forest as the Amazon basin starts going up into the Andean Mountain ranges. Or what about a visit to the desert, one hour from Lima, Peru? You can visit the only Vedic Planetarium built entirely from
mud or what about Coroico, Bolivia, on the holy mountain Ushi Matshi, where a new community is just developing.

We will be grateful to get your help and you may quite as well take home an unforgettable experience, full of joy and solid values for the rest of your life.

yours in universal love,

Swami B.A. Paramadvaiti

The Meaning of Initiation for Chanting the Maha-Mantra

Question: What is the difference between the Hare Krishna maha-mantra before and after initiation?

Answer: It is said that the Holy Name is not dependent upon initiation, any religious activities, purifying ceremonies, pious activities, rules or regulations. The Holy Name does not wait for such activities. It is self-sufficient. If the true nature and the reality of the Hare Krishna maha-mantra and the result of chanting the Holy Name is known to a person, there is no need for such things.

The chanting of the Holy Name of the Lord does not depend upon anything else, for one immediately attains all desired results by this connection with the highest platform, the Lord Himself. Just by using the tongue to chant the maha mantra immediate effects are produced.

Whether a person is initiated or not is of second importance. One may be initiated and yet be an impersonalistic or atheistic person. But a person who chants the Holy Name of the Lord purely will be protected from all material influences. A properly initiated Vaishnava may be imperfect, but one who chants the Holy Name of the Lord without offenses, he is perfect.

The scriptures have given many different examples of persons who attained liberation without the benefit of a guru. Seeing all these facts one may ask: why then is it necessary to take initiation or practice other spiritual activities in devotional service? Why should I strictly and attentively follow the orders of the guru if by chanting the Holy Name, without following any rules or regulations, others attained perfection? Why should I work so hard for a guru?

The answer is that even though it is true that chanting the Holy Name does not depend upon initiation, generally people accumulate lots of bad habits due to a materialistic life-style. The initiation which is imparted by a spiriutal master, or guru, is the process through which transcendental knowledge is passed from the spiritual master to the disciple. Therefore the bad habits of the disciple's previous life will be destroyed. It is like pulling the plug of a rotating fan. It will continue rotating a little bit longer, but soon the rotation will come to an end. In the same way, by diksa, or initiation, our unfavourable tendencies will come to an end by establishing a connection with the Absolute Truth. The meaning of initiation is to discover one's inner wealth, and getting relief from all outward obligations. Therefore initiation is important even though the Holy Name does not depend upon it.

The spiritual master connects his disciples to divinity by engaging them in the service of the Lord. By following the instructions of the spiritual master all accumulated impurities will be removed from the heart and we will be able to approach the Lord in a humble state of mind. To take shelter of a guru means to enter the boat which is destined to cross the vast ocean of material consciousness.

Taking initiation from a spiritual master will help us to focus our mind on the Holy Names, to find a direction in life, and to make spiritual progress rapidly.

How to reveal the Truth

Question: ...the truth , as far as I have been able to reveal it to myself has not set me free yet. What next?

Answer: "Just try to learn the truth by approaching a spiritual master. Inquire from him submissively and render service unto him. The self-realized souls can impart knowledge unto you because they have seen the truth." This statement we will find in the Bhagavad Gita.

The standard to measure truth must come from the absolute plane. It must come from a plane where the conception of truth and the practical benefit of truth is clear. Only then it will be possible to get the standard for what is right and what is wrong. The viewpoint of the ordinary, mundane plane will not help us. Our present condition and our body are not perfect. Our senses are limited. They are not sufficient to perceive the unlimited, absolute truth.

The attitude of a true seeker must be to surrender to that knowledge. I must surrender, because I want something which is superior to me. In that way, the Lord may be satisfied with our attempt and reveal Himself to us. Divine revelation is not a matter of research in this world, we should have a sincere heart to serve.

The Highest Truth is superior to everything and independent from everything but Himself. Therefore nothing and nobody can force Him to reveal Himself. Only by His causeless mercy He may come and reveal Himself to us. The Lord Himself says: 'Everyone is rewarded according to the degree of his surrender onto Me.'

Revealed truth does not rely on the consideration of the majority of people. Revealed turth must come from the perfect plane. Only through faith, sincerity and dedication can we approach that higher plane.

So, approaching a spiritual master, submissive inquiries and rendering service onto him, are the three qualifications to approach the truth; with humility, sincerity and dedication.
Approaching the spiritual master should not be done hesitatingly or haphazardly. One should approach a spiritual master with a clear and honest heart. Srila Prabhupada said: 'without return ticket'. One has to come for all.

Three new Questions and Answers about spiritual topics to Srila Bhakti Aloka Paramadvaiti Swami

Mind Control

Question: What is the purpose of controlling the mind and how can it be done?

Answer: The mind is flickering and easily influencable. People know that and make use of it, knowingly or unknowingly. For example, people dress to look nice and make a certain impression in the mind of other persons. Advertising experts use it to influence people to buy products by creating images and familiarities in their minds, and magicians use it to create specific illusions in people's minds.

Our mind constantly suggests us what to do, what to get and what to wish for. Thus, without controlling the mind it will always come up with more and more suggestions and wishes, thus we will never become satisfied. If we do not control our mind we are like prisoners, tied up to this material world, running after temporal pleasures. For example, sometimes people do things that are actually unreasonable, or buy something of little importance, not really being conscious about what they are doing.

But how can we control our mind to become free from that entangled situation?

The Bhagavad Gita tells us that the mind is our enemy if it is uncontrolled but it is our best friend if we control it. That is because only by controlling the mind it is possible to transcend the material limits and make spiritual progress. Wealth, fame and sexual attractions are the three prominent types of lust that keep us in that material condition. They are the source of most of the problems we have to face in our lives. So, if we follow this kind of attractions without restrictions, the mind is our enemy, whereas by regulating them, the mind will become our best friend.

Some persons seem to have control over their mind and in some way they also seem to have some control over the mind of others, like magicians. Those mystic powers will not help us to overcome our material deficiencies. Rather, they serve the purpose of incrementing our wishes and false ego even more. The presence of authority in our lives is what helps us to control our mind. The mind is looking for direction. Because authority always stays in a fixed position, while the nature of the mind is flickering. The highest authority is God. But in our present condition we do not have a close connection with God. Therefore we have to find a representative of God, a spiritual master, as an authority in our live. A spiritual master will guide us towards an elevated life because he can see things without disturbance of the mind and egotistic motives. Without the acceptance of a wellwishing authority we will accept false authorities and stay confused.

Srila Prabhupada said that it is possible to control the mind if we engage it in devotional service. If we become enthusiastic about something, then suddenly the mind starts cooperating and does not disturb anymore. Such animation can be found if we connect our mind and our heart with the purpose of our existence.

The mind wants to be engaged in something devotional. It becomes happy if it is making plans how to serve Krishna. But certainly one becomes easily distracted from this state of consciousness and starts to justify one's actions, searching the difficulty in others. Therefore we have to understand the mechanism of the mind.

The mind is part of our subtle material body, which consists of mind, intelligence and the false ego. But we, our true self, is different. The soul is of spiritual nature. So by serving the desires of the mind and the body, we become materially conditioned. By serving the needs of the soul we will become free from this entanglement. A spiritual master will show us how to do that.

A great part of yoga deals with controlling the mind. It is not easy, but if the heart is conquered, the mind will follow automatically. So, inspiration is a vital part of spiritual life.

A great help to control the mind comes from chanting mantras. The word 'mantra' itself consists of the two syllables 'man' and 'tra'. 'Man' comes from 'manah', meaning mind, and 'tra' comes from 'trayate', meaning liberation. So, mantras are destined to help us to control our mind.

The hare krsna maha mantra, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare, is called the great mantra because it directly connects us with the supreme platform and automatically helps us to fix our mind.

The highest form of mind control is to engage it in devotional service of the Lord by rendering service to a spiritual master. This process will reveal the highest goal of life to us.

Proper Renunciation

Question: What does renunciation mean? Is it that we should give up all our possessions?

Answer: First of all we have to see that God is the creator and maintainer of everything. Living beings, matter and everything else has its origin in the Supreme Lord. In other words, everything is a manifestation of His different energies. Therefore, everything is connected with the Lord.

If we forget this relationship with the Lord, and if we take things as real or use them without considering their connection with the Lord, we take things for something they are not. That is called illusion or maya.

On that basis we can see, that we do not possess anything in this world as everything is the energy of the Lord. And at the end of our life all material possessions loose their importance because no amount of money can buy an additional minute of life.

Renunciation means to see the things as they are and to use them appropriately. To see all things as the property of the Lord and to use them in the service of the Lord, without expecting any results for oneself, is the highest form of renunciation. The more advancement we make on the spiritual path, the purer our renunciation will become.

The environment are perfect as it is. But we have to learn to see and to use everything properly. Spiritual advancement requires to learn to accept things that are favourable and to reject things that are unfavourable for spiritual life.

Persons who worship the impersonal aspect of the Lord reject everything in this world because it is temporary. But a loving relationship with the Lord and devotional service also include a positive aspect. We will be able to destroy the darkness of both, pleasure and renunciation.

Sri Krishna himself mentiones that in the Bhagavad Gita: "For someone who sees me everywhere and sees everything in me, I am never lost for him, nor is he ever lost for Me."

Gaura nama, Maha Mantra and Offenses

Question: I am in a lot of unhappiness and confusion in my life. I also feel that I am under the influnce of black magic. I heard and read in Srila Prabhupada's books that the maha mantra is the solution for everyhting. However I also read (please correct me if i am wrong) that one must chant without offense to get the proper effect. Could I chant the Gaura - nama instead because there is no consideration of offense?

Answer: Chanting the maha mantra is always auspicious. Gradually it will clean our heart from all bad influences and nourish the longing of the soul. This transcendental sound vibration has so much power and mercy that it will always and under any circumstances have some positive effect.

However, the highest effect of the mantra can only be achieved when it is received from a spiritual master. Only then it is possible to chant the Holy Names of the Lord without offenses. Our faith and dedication to the spiritual master will help us to overcome all offenses.

In our sampradaya I do not know of any guru who initiates disciples exclusively in the names of Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and Sri Nityananda prabhu. The names of Lord Chaitanya and Lord Nityananda are part of the life of a Vaishnava and surely will give mercy and spiritual insights to a person who meditates upon them and renders service to Gurudeva; but excluding the maha mantra certainly does not come in the line of Srila Bhaktisiddhanta Sarasvati Thakur Prabhupada.

Once Srila Bhaktivijnana Bharati Maharaja responded to the same question that it is all a question of the faith in Sri Gurudeva. If we have faith in Sir Gurudeva no desire will come up to change his instructions.

As you wrote in the question, Srila Prabhupada said that the maha mantra is the solution for everything. If we accept these instructions of our eternal wellwisher, there won't be any doubt about what is to be done.
New loving recommendations for live from Srila Gurumaharaja, Bhakti Aloka Paramadvaiti Swami:

Pronunciation of the Maha Mantra

Question: Is it important to pronounce the maha-mantra correctly? If I am listening to my chanting at normal speed, I realize that I rather say 'Hade' and not 'Hare'. Only when chanting very very slowly, I am spelling it correctly. Does this take the power from the mantra to a certain degree?

Answer: Generally the correct pronunciation of vedic mantras is very important. In order to make a sacrifice successful the mantra and the Sanskrit words must be chanted with the right pronunciation. But in this age of Kali yuga there are no brahmanas who are capable of chanting the mantras correctly. So in this age one can attain the highest benefit by chanting the Hare Krishna maha-mantra. This mantra is so merciful and at the same time so powerful that one gains the effect even if it is not chanted completely correctly.

For someone who just started chanting this maha-mantra, it is very much recommended to concentrate on the correct pronunciation of the mantra. This will also help us not to fall asleep while chanting. The lips and the tongue should actively be engaged in chanting the words of the maha-mantra: Hare Krishna Hare Krishna Krishna Krishna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare. The words should be pronunced and heared with great attention. Actually the process of chanting is very simple, and everybody can participate, but one has to practice it seriously and with great attention.

However the proper pronunciation is not the goal of chanting the maha-mantra. For very advanced devotees who really chant with a lot of affection, the pronunciation may not be so important.

It is important to chant a certain amount of rounds on their Japa mala (rosary with 108 pearls) ever day, with a lot of steadiness and determination. Of course the maha mantra can be chanted anytime and everywhere, but it is helpful to dedicate a certain amount of time especially for concentrated mantra meditation on the rosary. This will help us to establish a real connection with the highest spiritual plane.

How to Meditate on the Japa Mala

Question: I often get confused when chanting, because I don't know how to put my focus straight. I understand that one should chant with the prayer to become an instrument of the love of God, but many times I cannot focus on the mantra when praying like this, and many other versions of this prayer come up. And if I just focus on the mantra, I feel that I am missing out on something, so most of the time I feel like a confused parrot when chanting til the japatime is up. It feels terrible to have this problem since chanting of the holy name is the all in all... So my question is if chanting and praying should be done separatly, simultaniously, mixed or in any other way...?

Answer: To chant the maha-mantra on the Japa mala is always auspicious. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu spread this mantra, which connects us with the abode of the highest love, and said that there are no hard and fast rules how to chant the mantra. Therefore we can chant this Hare Krishna maha-mantra everywhere and anytime.

For chanting on the Japa mala, Srila Prabhupada recommended that while chanting we should engage the mind in hearing the Hare Krsna mantra. So, simply by concentrating on chanting and hearing the sound vibration we will be connected with the transcendental realm.

We should always try to chant with all our heart. Do not try to concentrate the mind on something else as the mind is very flickering and will jump from one thing to the other. Just engage your senses in the Hare Krsna maha-mantra. The internal attitude, or the motivation, for chanting should be 'Oh my Lord, please let me be an instrument of your love, please let me do some service for you.'

It is not necessary to become a great singer or a nice musician to sing the maha-mantra. To chant it nicely means to chant it sincerely and with great attention.

Do bacteria have souls?

Question: My question involves the number of souls that appear in lower life forms compared with the number of souls in human and animal bodies. This doubt first appeared when I heard from a devotee that even cells have souls. I'm not sure whether this is true, but then I began to consider the number of other small living entities such as bacteria, which do have souls. With so many cells and bacteria present in a human or animal body, it appears that many more souls are occupying these lower forms. Do cells have souls? Why do so many more souls apparently appear in lower life forms than in animal or human forms? Please shine some spiritual light on this doubt which my material intelligence is unable to defeat.

Answer: One of the most important books about selfrealization, the Bhagavad Gita explains that humble sages see the various living beings with equal vision. This is because wise men know and see that all living beings have got the same universal father, who is also present in all of them as the Supersoul. From this statement we can see that there is no difference in the spiritual quality between the living beings. So there is the same kind of soul in a human being as in a bacteria or any other animal. Life is the active part, the soul or jiva, and exists independent from the body. The body is of material nature whereas the soul is of spiritual nature. Both, humans and bacteria, had to accept a material body.

The number of spiritual souls is unlimited. And there is one supreme being: the Lord himself. The number of human beings may be far smaller than the number of bacteria or other lifeforms. Therefore it is said that a good birth, a birth in a human body, is something very precious, and we should make all efforts to use this body for the right purpose: asking questions about transcendental topics. What is giving life to this material body? Where does the soul come from and where will it go? Is there somebody who created all of us? How can we get to know Him? Many answers to such questions are offered by the Bhagavad Gita. The Bhagavad Gita is like the manual that explains how to use the human form of life. It shows us how to reestablish a relationship with God. That is essential to develop spiritual consciousness and to become free from confusion. And in this way everybody will become happy.

How did we come into this World?

Question: I cannot understand how it comes that if it is so good in the spiritual world, how dumb we must be to force Krishna to remove us from there? I just really cannot imagine that all the material universes were created just for our sense gratification. Well it is logic: if we can't do it there, we must do it here, and actually we do not even enjoy it. It is like that. Did we personally ask to come here? Or is it that there is some downward degradation, away from Krishna? How do such toughts can come up within us if we are there? I really don't understand, but I understand that now I'm here. And then there is this material creation. How could I choose to come here? It's just unconcievable.

Answer: In the purport of the verse from the Srimad Bhagavatam Canto 3, chapter 16, verse 29 Srila Prabhupada mentions three times that a jiva that took birth in the spiritual world cannot fall down again, if not arranged and approved by the Lord himself.

It is a very surprising topic. Because the supreme Lord, the personality of Godhead, can do whatever He wants. He is free to do anything, and on top of it, everything He does is good and beneficial. He is the only wellwisher of all living entities. He is not against any single one of them, but for Him to exhibit His various pastimes, it takes many different, delightful things to happen, which in the long run give incredible blessings to the people in this world.

In this purport Srila Prabhupada says three times within half a page, that a living entitiy cannot fall from Vaikuntha, will not fall from Vaikuntha, never falls from Vaikuntha. Even though he says this so clear here, it happend later, that in the movement of my spiritual master - after his departure - interpretations were drawn from a few other indications, completely denying this puport and indirectly declaring that Srila Prabhupada is three times wrong; three times wrong in the same purport.

This topic was not only millions of times discussed, but also millions of times misunderstood. To understand, or not to understand the Lord, is purely a question of grace. Logical sequences do not necessarily favour us in this respect. The speculators have not only said that the jiva falls from Vaikuntha, but they are also claiming that jivas fall from Krsnaloka – that means falling from the personal, direct association with the Supreme Lord; falling from the nitya-siddha position.

This idea is not at all backed up by sastra. Of course, if Krsna wants any of his associates to go somewhere and to do something on His behalf, He would have the free will to do so. We cannot say, that Krsna cannot do this but in no way we can come up with a theory and try to substantiate it by wild speculations, which claims that every living entity comes from a personal relationship with Krsna in Goloka Vrindavan and fell down to this world due to misbehaviour there. If this is the case, there would be plenty of misbehaviour in the spiritual world, wouldn´t it? Just imagine if amongst the cowhard boys, here and there, the one or the other ends up missing. What would his friends think about: “Oh were is Gopa?” Then the others would say: “Don't you know what he did yesterday? Krsna told him to get lost.” Their hearts would be crumbled continuously in Goloka Vrindavana. How could you call it the spiritual world? If somebody from our own lines falls down, we are suffering. It is such an painful experience. So I am amazed, what the mind is capable to produce such ideas.

Well, sometimes Prabhupada may have mentioned in a letter to someone, that the idea, that we come from Brahman is rather impersonal. So he said, we do come from Krsna. We do not come from Brahman – because he could see, that their interpretation was: If I come from Brahman, then I better go back to Brahman again. They would not take Krsna in consideration as the supreme generating power.

Last not least the fall down, the return, the relationship and all the behaviour is covered by a certain veil. By the sweet will of the Supreme it is covered by a certain uncertainty which devotees have penetrated here and there with their tikas by saying things like: there was some apathy towards service; there was some indifference towards the Lord, there was some desire to control the nature; there was a misuse of free will. We argue in one way or another and that is kind of reasonable because you see that we can be good or bad according to our capricious decisions. It is reasonable that this capacity caused us at some point to go the wrong way.

So the veil is there, meaning you cannot see everything as clear as without the veil. The veil which is covering the relationship is a very sensible veil. There is a reason for that, because without that veil, there would be no question of free will. If everything would be crystal clear, our material existence would be a crystal clear nonsense and we would not have any choice to go on with our pleasure seeking mentality. It is very sad actually, people want the Vedas and Krsna to give things which Krsna prefers not to give, and due to that souls make concoctions, or even worse, they reject them all together. But it is not our right. We are simply meant to accept the guidance from the pure devotees, like Srila Prabhupada, who in a short purport emphaticly says, that nobody falls from Vaikuntha. Then we may speculate: “Oh, he means Vaikuntha, but from Goloka, yes we fall.”

First of all Goloka is part of Vaikuntha and not only that, it is the top most part of Vaikuntha and those who cannot see that, they cannot recognize that. Well, maybe they are prefering the relationship in awe and reverence, like the aisvarya relationship with the Supreme Lord and thus they do not pay special attention to the Lord. Even though, who can do away with the sweetness?

So, in this particular verse Srila Prabhupada makes it so clear that we will not fall down, when we reach Lord Krsna's abode. That means, nobody who has been there before fell down either. That is a logical sequence. But we did come from somewhere, and we did come from the Lord, because we did not invent ourselves. So there is an agency of eternal soul production, if you want to call it in that way. And they all get the chance to go there or to come here. It is up to him. It is behind that veil, because if we would remove that veil, nobody could be in maya for one second, because the crystal clear confrontation with the truth would make it impossible to go against the truth. So there would be no freedom. We would just be fabricated to fit in one single unit, which means submission, and then everybody in the spiritual world would be a naturally submissive devotee without any option; and that is too much robot like, it is too much zombie like, it is too mechanic and manipulated. So Krsna has not done it in that way.

Everything He does is good. He does not make anything wrong. We do, He does not.

These are not words taken out of someone's mind. All is described there: antaranga-, bahiranga-, tatastha-sakti; and the light, the brahmajyoti, the effulgance coming from the Lord in the form of sparks, which are just each and everyone part of His infinte energy. So potentiallity of individuality development by the sweet will of the Lord for raising in the soul the chance to come into a personal encounter with the origin of its existence. That is Krsna, the beloved of all souls.

Thank you very much Srila Prabhupada for giving so such clearity on this topic in this verse.

Real Identity and False Identifications

Question: What is the 'false ego'? Does it mean that there is no ego whatsoever?

Answer: Ego means 'identity', or 'self', distinct from the world and other living beings. In other words, Ego means individuality. False ego means wrong identification; identification with something we are not. So, the ego is there, this is not deniable. But we have to know what our real identity is in order to distinguish between the ego, the real self, and the false ego, or wrong identifications. Only then we will be able to get rid of the materialistic, self-centered and false ego.

False, or materialistic ego is the identification with matter. It is very self-centered. The origin of the false ego is the desire to possess material things in order to enjoy them. In this way we start to identify ourselves with material values and we become conditioned by the three modes of material nature, namely goodness, passion and ignorance.

In this conditioned state the living entities struggle very hard for gaining material values, but as a matter of fact it cannot solve the real problems of life: birth, death, old age and disease. With this wrong idea of ego, we think that we are a product of material nature and therefore we are runnig after illusory sense enjoyment. So absorbed in bodily consciousness we cannot understand our real identity, situation and purpose. We do not have clear knowledge of the existence and nature of God.

Often impersonalistic philosophers say that everything is illusion, everything is one, and they want to dissolve the ego. But we cannot give up our ego, as it means 'identity'. What we have to give up is the false ego, the false identification with matter. The self is not the illusion, but the bodily concept of life is the illusion.

And the first step in the process of realizing our true identity, also called self-realization, is to learn that we are not this body. With this information immediately the questions arise: so who are we? what is our real identity? The answer to these questions can be found in authorized Vedic scriptures such as the Bhagavad Gita: we are spirit souls. We are eternal, spiritual beings. But due to our material desires we had to take birth in the material world and we had to accept this material body. The Lord grants us a free will. So we are responsable for our actions and we decide whether we want to connect with the internal, spiritual energy of the Lord, or the external, material energy.

To purify our materialistic consciousness we have to become engaged in devotional service. By engaging in devotional service the original qualities of the self will become manifest. The Bhagavad Gita also tells us that we have to accept a spiritual master, a real representative of God, who is experienced in the science of self-realization and who can tell us how to serve God. Because that is something our mind cannot make up on its own account. In this way we will be able to give up our false identifications and start seeing our real nature, and the respective duties.

So you see, self-realization is a very scientific process. Due to our long misuse of the senses for sense gratification, we are confused by false identifications such as: my country, my house, my money, which make us forget our eternal relationship with the Lord. Sometimes persons even think they themselves have become God. Of course, that is very pleasing to their false ego, as they see themselves as the peak of all creation, having to bow down before nobody. But actually it is easy to see that it cannot be true: we are not able to maintain ourselves, nor anybody else. We are basically dependent on every apple and every corn of rice. We are parts and parcels of the Lord. Our relationship with the Lord is like the relationship of a father and his a son. The son has the same qualities as the father but they can never switch their identity.

The original existence or nature of living beings is eternal and full of joy and wisdom. We should never forget that. In this material world there are always anxieties and problems. But we do not belong here, because everything in this material world is temporal whereas we are eternal. So we should take this opportunity to get rid of false identifications and to become engaged in the loving service of the Lord by approaching those who are already engaged in His service.

What is spiritual Life?

Question: Why did it take so long for me to get the grace of Sri Krishna Chaitanya? Are we actually so bad that we have to stay here for so long? Or is it more a sad story about us, the little fallen souls? At the same time this question is a little bit stupid, because I think I got some grace from Sri Chaitanya; otherwise I could not write His Name. I find that paradoxical, but I know that I am not in full knowledge either. Do you have any thoughts about that rather uncomfortably situation? My practical life doesn't seem to come along with the knowledge I recieved.

Answer: Spiritual life is all about developing transzendental love.

There was a great yogi who underwent severe austerities for many many decades. One day, when Narada Muni passed by, the yogi said: 'Narada Muni, so nice to meet you. Where are you going?' 'I am going to visit Visnu', replied Narada Muni. 'Really?', wondered the yogi, 'you are able to visit Visnu? How did you do that?' 'It was a blessing, Visnu gave me this instrument, a vina, and I am able to travel on the sound of that instrument', answered Narada Muni. Then the yogi asked: 'Can you do me a favour please? When you meet Visnu, please tell Him that there is a yogi who has been performing hard austerities for a long time. How many births will he have to take in this world until he reaches perfection?' Narada Muni said: 'Yes, I will ask Visnu for you, don't worry.'

Then Narada Muni went on and a little later he met a craftsman sitting in a meadow and doing his work. It was a simple and very poor man. The craftsman saw Narada Muni, offered his obeisances and asked: 'Oh, Narada Muni, please give me your blessings. Where are you going?' 'I am going to visit Visnu', replied Narada Muni. 'Visnu? You are able to visit Visnu? Wow. Can you do me a favour please?', asked the craftsman, 'How much more time do I have to stay in this world and suffer?' Narada Muni answered:'Yes, no problem. I will ask Visnu.'

So Narada Muni went to Visnu and told Him the story of the two persons. Visnu spoke: 'When you see them again, they will ask you what I have been doing. Tell them I was pushing an elefant through the eye of a needle. And depending on their reaction you will know my answer for them.' Narada Muni was pretty much surprised by this information but whatever Visnu says He would do.

The next time Narada Muni passed by our yogi, the yogi received him: 'Narada Muni, what a fortune to meet you again. Did you meet Visnu?' 'Yes', replied Narada Muni. 'And, did you ask Visnu?', the yogi wanted to know. 'Yes', said Narada Muni. 'And what did Visnu do?', asked the yogi impatiently. 'He was pushing an elefant through the eye of a needle', was the answer of Narada Muni. Then the yogi uttered: 'Come on Narada, stop telling jokes. I am a serious yogi. Don't tell me such ridiculous stories. Is there nothing reasonable you can tell me?' 'Well, yes', said Narada Muni, 'there is a message for you: you will still have to spend thousands of lives here in this world before you can reach perfection.'

After that Narada Muni continued his travel and met the craftsman again. The craftsman was very happy to see Narada Muni and spoke: 'Oh, Narada Muni, you are back already. Did you see Visnu? Did you ask Him? What has Visnu been doing when you met Him?' Narada Muni responded: 'Visnu was pushing an elefant through the eye of a needle.' 'Oh', said the craftsman, 'that is fantastic. I could never have imagined something like that. That is wonderful.' Astonished Narada Muni looked at the craftsman and asked: 'My dear craftsman, do you believe that story? Who could possibly push an elefant through the eye of a needle?' The craftsman replied: 'Ah, what do you think? Do you see that huge Banyan tree over there? It was in a tiny little seed and now it produces millions of seeds itself every year. If the Lord can put such a large tree in such a small seed, why should He not be able to push an elefant through the eye of a needle? That really would be nothing for Him.' Then Narada Muni responded: 'Well, I have also a message for you, dear craftsman: right after leaving this body you will go back to home, back to Godhead.'

So this is the crucial point. It is not a question of knowledge but a question of realization and good faith. All the rules, regulations and good advice in the Vedic scriptures help us to become established in the mode of goodness. But the actual goal of live is to develop real service, real love for the Lord. That is only possible by the mercy of the Lord himself. What we can do is to accept a spiritual master, who is experienced in Vedic knowledge, engage our senses in his devotional service and spread the glories of the Lord by chanting the Holy Names of the Lord. That will clean our consciousness from all material impurities, and we will become established in goodness. It will enable us to come closer to the perfection of a living being: to reestablish the forgotten relationship with God.

Vrinda Music

Question: Are there some music groups in Vrinda? And if so, what kind of music do they play?

Answer: Yes, many artists and young people are inspired by the message of Universal Love found in the example, teachings and books of Srila Prabhupada. Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, the great preacher of love for God, said that there are no hard and fast rules for chanting the Holy Names of the Lord. So Everybody can participate and help to distribute the Message of Love. It is a not matter of the color of your skin, social status, birth, age or any other material associations. We are all spirit souls and we have to satisfy the needs of the soul.

While in our temple programms we prefer classical bhajanas and kirtanas with mrdangas, kartalas and sometimes harmonium, there are many groups with different musical styles. From classical Vaisnava styles from India, to Rock, Metal and Hardcore bands presenting the message of Universal Love, Southamerican Salsa and other rhythms and cultural influences. The message of Lord Chaitanya becomes much closer and easily understandable for people in general if it is presented in their local languages and customs. So we also sing many devotional songs in the respective languages. This is approved by spiritual guardians of the Vrinda mission, Srila BR Sridhara Maharaja and Srila BP Puri Maharaja.

The beauty of spiritual life is in the unity in diversity. We are all individuals and therefore we have different approaches to spiritual life and we will develop different relationships with the Lord. But the first and essential thing is to come in contact with the Holy Names of the Lord. The first of the nine devotional processes is 'sravanam', hearing about the Lord, His transcendental nature and activities. The most powerful mantra, the maha mantra, can change people and their consciousness so much, it is amazing. We can seeit happen every day. Therefore we try to distribute this message of Universal Love through so many different channels.

You can see and hear music from some of our artists on our internet page

How to use Japa beads

Question: Is it wrong to chant more than one Maha-Mantra on each bead on the japa-mala? Is there any Vaisnava etiquette rule regarding this? Thank you for any help!

Answer: According to the Sri Siksastakam from Sri Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, there are no hard and fast rules for chanting the Holy Names of the Lord, but it is very important to sing them with all our heart. Our acaryas give clear instructions about the usage of japa beads for chanting the Maha-mantra. Usually we chant one complete maha-mantra on one bead and then go on to the next bead, without passing over the main bead, which is usually somewhat larger and represents the Lord himself. When we reach this bead, we change the direction and continue chanting the maha-mantra, bead by bead.

There may be some other traditions too but actually there is no need for alteration of the process, because our acaryas are the best examples that this process leads to the highest goal possible, true love for Sri Krishna, which is really the more important part; to chant the Holy Names without offenses. All forms and artificial behaviour will not help us in the end. Sincerity in the process will be the best protection for our love.

Listening to the Heart

Question: In the answer about abortion, you give the advice, to listen to the heart. How do I know, what is my heart? For exemple: A friend has big problems in his familylife. They have got two children, 2 and 5 years old. His wife, had an affair with another man. Now she has only negativ feelings for her husband. She does not know what to do. Her intellect tells her to stay with the family, but her heart and feelings tend to separate with her husband. Is it really her heart telling her to destroy the family?

Answer: guru sastra sadhu vaikya citete koriya aikya

First we have to consider Guru, Sastra and Sadhu. Then, at the end, we should listen to our heart. All of them should produce a congruent solution. Then you know that the solution must be very good. If you cannot find that harmony between the revealed truth and your understanding, start your research again. Do not act hastily. How could your heart disagree with the truth if the truth is the only thing beneficial for you? With the guidance of the revealed truth you will learn to understand your real heart and you will be protected from being mislead by your mind. When you are in doubt - don't do it. Pray to God to show you how to conquer your doubt. There is no reason to lament later if you proceed in that way.

PS: Tell your friend that one should try to save the united family almost at any cost, but that is only possible if God is in the center of your life. The concern for the welfare of the children - according to my feeling - should be given the priority. The parents already made so many decisions in their lives, but the little children are just starting their life and if they loose their trust in their guardians, they will have much pain to digest. Due to the fault of those who did not behave according to the sweet will of God, to maintain the family united. This is most properly due to ego-problems. And the only way to overcome the ego is to put the higher values over the lower relative considerations.

My best wishes for you, your friend and their children.

Sierra Nevada - Caribbean Sea and Snowpeaks

Question: Can you give some information about the new Yoga Monastery at the coast of Colombia?

Answer: We started a Yoga Monestary very close to Santa Marta, which situated in Bonda, in the Sierra Nevada. The devotees that are living there at the coast of Colombia, had a difficult time to visit our festivals for example in Bogota, due to the expensive and long journeys. Actually there are many temples along the Atlantic Coast of Colombia: in Santa Marta, Vaier Duper, Barraquilla, Cartagena, Cincelejo and Monteria.

With the help of Kesava Prabhu I was able to buy some land in the most beautiful mountain ranges of the world. All the devotees helped to build some traditional construction there. It is the land of the Cogis and Aruacos. And also, hunderts of years ago, some Indians, called the Tronas, used to live there. They had great skills of construction, and many boulder stairs, built maybe 500 years ago, lead through our farm. As we are cleaning the land, more and more of those wonderful staircases appear. And recently we inaugurated the temple of Mahaprabhu in this place. The devotees of the coast regularly hold large festivals there and they built the ashram in Cogi-style.

The temple itself is a little bit more modern and it is situated in the mango orchard. There are not so many devotees permanently living in the Yoga Monastery, but they are doing a very nice job. And Rasa Kirtan prabhu is working wonderfully to coordinate the activities on the coast. We just opened a restaurant in Santa Marta and there is also a Visnu Priya Asram, lead by mother Ajita, on the second floor of a nice building inside the town.

Preaching goes out far from here, to places such as Rio Acha and Maicao. Those places are very wild and only by Sri Caitanya Mahaprabhu's desire the Holy Names are reaching even there. If you have the opportunity and if you would like, please help this young Yoga Monestery or simply come, visit and stay with us for a while and you will surely discover another wonderful world; the world of dedication.

The Meaning of Preaching for a Married Man

Question: Is preaching important for a married man, a grihasta?

Since the majority of people gets married, there is nothing else than preaching and helping preachers that can safe them from material entanglement.

If you want to spend all your time preaching and you are not married, you are very smart to stay that way, because then you can dedicate your life not only to one family but to many more people. I really felt that focusing my life's energy on only one woman and some children would have been a terrible limitation to the intense desire of my heart to associate with and to help many people in this lifetime. That is why I chose to try to serve Srila Prabhupada as a member of the renounced order of life. No doubt, your mind will be tested many times, and your desire to serve your Guru and the people has to be strong enough that you will repeat and keep your wows every day. If you are not sure about that, it is best to stay a brahmacari, because if you should ever change your mind, you can still get married.

And if you are already married, be happy about this commitment. Be an excellent husband, father or mother, but do not disconnect yourself from preaching, because that will always give you new life and motivation to go on, to go forward on your path back to home, back to Godhead.

Yoga Monasteries - Spiritual Retreats

Question: What is the concept or idea of a Yoga Monastery? What is the benefit of visiting a Yoga Monastery?

Answer: Yoga Monasteries project a very elevated vision. Our goal is that people have the possibility to purify themselves, they can learn the sacred Vedic scriptures, vegetarian cooking, eat prasadam, and many others of the 64 known arts of Vedic Culture, like flower garlands, the clothes of the deity, flower arrangements, organic agriculture, etc. In other words, one takes care and cultivates everything that the Lord gave us.

The Yoga Monasteries are places of peace, where one can redefine once again what the goal of his life is. Why are you here? What do you want to achieve in this stay on Planet Earth? We are all travelling souls, we came here just for a visit. We have to fulfill many things, we have to learn a lot of things, but we are travellers. The visit is temporarily, and later we have to continue our journey, and we have to take our wealth of consciousness, as well as the burden, or committed mistakes, with us.

In this way, the Yoga Monastery is a place of purification. It is a place to open your heart. It is a place where you can find yourself, and get to know which are your brothers and sisters in this world. A Yoga Monastery is an embassy of the eternal world. Simple living, high thinking; with relations in harmony, where one learns to serve. Spiritual science is being perfected when one learns to serve. Normally, in this material world, everybody is very expert in serving himself, but in a Yoga Monastery one learns to serve Krishna, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord in the heart of everyone, the creator and maintainer of everyone; He, who makes us brothers and sisters, He, who gave us the chance to purify and get to know ourselves.

That is what our spiritual master tought us. In practice, these are places where one can participate and follow Vedic ideals. There is no need to be in anxiety. One can live a beautiful life, in a spiritual surrounding. Of course, in this world there are lots of duties to fulfill, to make oneself util in human society. But that is often also the cause of agitation and uncertainty in people. Therefore, in a Yoga Monastery one learns to live and to be happy as you are and with that what you have got. You will discover that happiness is something very important and distinct. It is not something you can buy in a supermarket. This security cannot even be found in material wealth, nor in beauty, nor in the health of our body. But it is an internal, superior wellbeing; unreachable by greediness, envy, lust, frevor and other negative impulses that keep us tied to this material world.

In this way, a Yoga Monastery is a school of preparation. Spending a week or a month in a Yoga Monastery, one learns to serve, one learns to give. And that is the most important thing one has to know. And nowadays persons do not know what to do when they have grown old. In that golden age, they can also come to Yoga Monasteries, or they can travel from one Yoga Monastery to another. That too is a very fortunate life. It is called the life of a sannyasi, of a renunciate; who travels and visits persons, knocking on their doors and reminding them of beautiful places, not so far away.

The Yoga Monasteries are places that exist so that people can learn the beauty of their being, the development of their individual consciousness. That is what we are trying; to create this kind of atmosphere in our Yoga Monasteries. And that is a model which can be repeated; hopefully infinitely. Because this world, its beauty, the sounds of nature, the sound of rivers and the waves of the ocean, the wind in the flowers and plants, all we see here, are places to be very close to the Supreme Lord in his universal form. Appreciate it, feel Mother Earth giving her benedictions. That is the way how we can find ourselves. Because in reality our life is exactly for this purpose: to learn about spiritual love.

Vrinda Mission in Mayapur

Question: There were some projects of Vrinda in Mayapur some time ago. What is the mission of Vrinda in Mayapur now?

Answer: Mayapur is the place where Lord Chaitanya appeared. I have a great desire to serve the dham-vasis and all the holy Vaisnavas who live there, with an increased presence of the WVA.

Actually, since the time of the WVA-festivals at Srivas-angam, we felt great joy to participate in the development of Mayapur-dham. At one point the police was called to stop a meeting of the WVA. Because of some dispute of influence over Srivas-angam, the police was ordered to stop the festival, and they where looking for the foreigner who organized the event. I was hiding inside and thinking: "Mahaprabhu, what to do, what to do". But as the confusion increased outside, I decided to face the matter personally. I Asked: "Who is the police officer in charge?" They brought me to a man who was around 45 years of age, and I asked him: "Are you from a hindu-vaisnava family?" He moved his head in approval. Then I said: "This place is called "khol bhanga danga" - the place where the cand khasi stopped the kirtan and broke the mrdanga, 500 years ago. Today many great devotees of Mahaprabhu are going to come here and deliver hari-katha. Do you really want to stop that? What could be the reason? He said: "I got orders to stop this event." I told him: "Just tell your authorities, that you did not meet anybody here. Tomorrow this festival is over and nobody will be here anymore. I beg you, do not disturb the sankirtan-yajna. He smiled and sat down on a chair. After an hour or so, sitting with his 10 police officers, and watching many pilgrims comming to see the exibits and books on the book fare, he called his man and they disappeared with a smile on their face.

Srila BP Puri Maharaja gave me the charge of the samadhi mandir of Bhakti Saudha Asrama Maharaja, right next to the Lion´s Gate at the entry of Mayapur. I was so happy about the trust my siksa guru had put in me, to be able to take care of this place. Unfortunately we lost this place later due to some illegal falsification of documents, done by somebody who was greedy to take money from the foreign devotees. Since I did not receive clear papers, I could not do anything to protect our service there. I saw it was very difficult as a foreigner to deal with the local Bengalis and their ruthlessly defendend interests. Another attempt to safe an old and broken temple in the Hulaghat area failed, because many negative elements in the area preferred to keep this temple for their illicit business. They showed up with many people and threw out the brahmacari I had positioned there, before the restauration had started.

Mayapur is a great adventure. Even though there are many pure devotees with their incredible asrams, there are also other people without any sacred motives. I still pray that one day we may be able to establish a beautiful branch or Vrinda there. Between the Ganges and the Saraswati is a very nice area, where the sweet water dolphins jump continuously. I am waiting for a sign from Chaitanya Mahaprabhu that it is time for us to do there some service again. In the meantime we stay with our friends when we go there, like Upendra prabhu of Vamana pukur, in the Gopinatha Gaudiya Matha or the Caitanya Gaudiya Matha.

One of the reasons we need a temple of our own, is that we need a place to have soft and sweets kirtans and bhajans. In most temples they slam the huge kartalas and gongs and ring the bell so loudly, that one can not even hear what song they are singing. The pain in my ear drums order me to depart immediately. And most of my friends and myself just cannot tolerate the incredible amount of hot chillies in almost any preperation. So we need our own kitchen too. And then we want to hear classes in our respective languages. That is very necessary in order to go deep into the meaning of bhajan, hari-katha and parikrama. What can I do? These are some conditionings we drag around.

I shared my feeling about the deafening sounds with some senior vaisnavas, and to my surprise they said to me, that they themselves suffered from it from the beginning. That where Sripa Bhakti Vijnana Bharati Mahraja and Hrsikes Maharaja, who has just started his mission opposite of Caitanya Matha. And how surprised was I to hear, that Srila Prabhupada Bhaktisiddhanta Saraswati Thakura prohibited the use of Chillis in his temples. Well, I hope indian devotees follow him more seriously in other respects. :-)

Anyway, it is good to know that you are not alone. Sri Gauranga Mahaprabhu and the Holy Dham of his appearance ki jay!

Also there are other wonderful areas in the dham, such as Godruma. I am not so fond of the site of Navadvip town, because it is too much city atmosphere there. And really the feeling of Mahaprabhu and Nityananda prabhu becomes more intense without any modern distraction. I pray to Lord Gauranga that we will be allowed to serve Him there once again and also that the Holy Land may be kept up in the purest and cleanest way, by all of us.

Our work in the WVA is to create new levels of communication to discover and defend common goals amongst all vaisnava missions. And what better place could be there to rejoice in this new form of cooperation than the place where the Lord of love appeared personally. Anyway, it is very delightful to see new vaisnava missions appear and open their branches somewhere on the nine islands of Navadvip.

If someone has a good idea, how to make some Vrinda center there, feel free to contact me.

Questions to the Spiritual Master

Question: Could you please say how to treat this kind of situation: my mind presents a big problem to me but after chanting the Holy Names, or hearing one of your classes, the problem disappeared or has become much smaller. But then, once again, the problem may grow very quickly and there is my dilemma: is a disciple supposed to bother his spiritual master with solving his mental problems, or should he try to solve them by himself, by chanting and hearing classes? What about asking questions to the spiritual master? When or which questions should be asked and which questions should not be asked?

Answer: Your question is very important. Thank you very much for giving me the chance to speak about this topic.

If we have a question and we can not find a solution, neither through chanting nor through hearing classes than we can ask an older devotee or the spiritual master. I started with the help of Govardhana prabhu in order to always remain available for those who connect to my spiritual family, as well as for others who would like to hear my opinion on any given topic. And questions which are interesting for many people, we publish on the web to share them with others who might have the same question.

Hearing and chanting is the bonafide process of removing our mental difficulties. If there are no more difficulties you must have achieved self realization. That can only be expected after some incredible effort, or due to some incredible mercy. Once Srila Prabhupada said that all his disciples, who are engaged in selfless service, are actually self-realized. So we should always try to remain well-situated in the service of our spiritual master. Then we live a very elevated life. And if we avoid to offend other Vaisnavas we may actually achieve true "nista", firmly dedicated life. Any conversation for the sake of spiritual progress is blessed. I feel myself very fortunate that I can participate very frequently in this type of conversations.

So do not feel worried if questions are bothering you. They give you a good chance to engage in hari-katha. But also be patient. Some things can only be unterstood when mercy descends. For that mercy we should always pray very humbly. And we should be eager to serve, eager to become an instrument of Lord Krishna's love. Then our capacity of hearing will increase incredibly.

Get up Arjuna, and fight!

Question: I would like to know why the enthusiasm gets lost and besides having a lot of service, there is no enthusiasm for doing it, and why, although Gurudeva is there, willing to hear, one cannot speak with him and tell him what one feels about the service, but prefers to keep quiet?

Answer: This question comes from the typical case of a devotee who listens too much to the mind. First we should be thankful. Next we should be compassionate. If you have no enthusiasm to help others, it means that you forget the sweet will of Lord Krishna. He said, that dearest of all to Him is the one, who takes His message to others.

Just look at the example of our acaryas, they all went on with their service, despite a lot of hardship and difficulty. We should rather follow them than listening to our mind. The mind is great if it comes to cheating yourself and producing excuses for not serving and not surrendering. So the problem is common, and it will continue until you give a good kick to your mind with a lot of maha-mantra, reading the transcendental books, hearing lectures or asking for personal guidance from an advanced devotee.

I think you would agree, that there are many people in this world who are much worse off then you. Do you agree? If you say: 'yes', then get out there and do something to help them, rather than to lament like an old women, because her partners for playing bridge did not show up. This life is very serious and it will never get more serious then practising devotional service, because even at the moment of death, only the Holy Name will save you.

Please do not take offence of my strong reply, but sometimes only a strong reply awakens us from our sleeping conditions.

Meditation at the Ganges in Hrsikesh

Question: The Beatles and many other people went to Hrisikesh, a place at the Ganges in India, for learning the science of yoga and meditation. What is so special in this place? Have you been there? And can everyone go there?

Answer: Hrsikesh is the place where the Lord of Rsis, or holy men, is remembered every day. It lies in the Himalayas, in the North of India.

Only in recent years I went there with a small group of devotees. We stayed at the Sand-Seva Asram, and every morning we could just go out of our room and jump into the Ganges. As you can imagine it was cold, clean and pure; the thirsty mans delight. And then we would sit there and chant, as incredible amounts of sacred water rushed by. What a joy to see, while the early morning traffic over Laksma-Yulan foot-bridge started moving. And then we had our class of Srimad Bhagavatam, morning meditation, bhajan, accompanied by holy cows and jumping fishes.

Hrsikesh is a Temple City; some of the yoga ashrams there look more like five star hotels than sacred places of withdrawal from the world. But here and there and everywhere a yogi in his asana is giving his thoughts to Mother Ganga and Lord Siva, who received the Goddess on his head. And we did the beautiful Harinam-sankirtan, which Caitanya Mahaprabhu gave to the hole world.

Winding roads between uncountable asrams, old yogis coming to the door and looking with suprise. Their faces deep and grave. Sometimes somewhat hardened by extensive austerities or prolonged waiting for foreign yoga students. Then all for a sudden, a deep smile flashes from their heart onto their faces. Some lift their arms and wave, 'Come in, lets have a chant together. Let's glorify Lord Hrisikesh in Hrsikesh.' Jay Nitai, jay Gaurahari, jay Prabhupada. What a relief to chant and dance and to produce joy in others. These are precious moments, not to every forget. The lila of the maha-mantra, Hare Krsna Hare Krsna Krsna Krsna Hare Hare, Hare Rama Hare Rama Rama Rama Hare Hare.

Where did we go from here? We crossed over the second bridge and met a blind sadhu, a yogi who worships at least ten different Krsna-deities at the same time. Lets read from Prabhupada's Bhagavad Gita he said. Obviously overjoyed, the prabhuji does not want to let us go. More chanting, more Hari-katha, but Bhaktiyoga Swami is already waiting for us. In this stronghold of sanskrit scolars, or impersonal meditators, or commercial yogis we feel so lucky to have found some devotional service at the bank of the Ganges. Another class, another kirtan, another day another month, time does not count, so do not count time. As death will simply come do devour you, absorb your life at once in the heart-felt chanting of the Holy Names and time will stop, because Lord Krsna will take you beyond time and space.

Then we see a poster: 'Techno party in Hrsikesh' and I feel seperation from Sri Vrindavana dhama, the land of Srimate Radharani. Mother Ganges was jealous, because Lord Krsna bathed in His childhood pastimes in the Yamuna. Then, pleased by her prayers, the Lord appeared again as Caitanya Mahaprabhu and performed His childhood pastimes in Mayapur. Eternally united since the Triveni, Ganga and Yamuna flow tightly ambraced down, into the ocean, giving all of us life and joy and the transcendental enviroment.

All these holy places should be spotlessly clean and must be protected against the noise and other Kali-yuga contaminations. If you do not push something up, it will certainly go down. All together we can do it. I hope next time I go there, I can take a big group of kirtaniyas and visit all the asrams with a message of love from the environmental comitee of the WVA.

Rules of Devotional Music

Question: Are there rules for devotional music?

Answer: Thank you for your inquery. I started the Harmony School of Conscious Art many years ago.

The purpose of that school is to enthuse artists of all kinds to utilize the language of their art to awaken consciousnesses and to spread the glories of the Holy Name. We take shelter of this part of the Siksastakam, where Sri Caitanya says that there are no hard and fast rules to chant the Holy Names. There are different types of standards. I heard that my parama Gurudeva did not like the music of harmoniums in the temples, but my Gurudeva enchanted many thousands of people with beautiful harmonium bhajanas. He enthused George Harrison and had Yamuna Govinda-prayers played in every temple every day. On the other hand, myself, I cannot tolerate loud bells, wampers or gongs. When they create an incredible amount of decibel, “deafening” sounds, I have to run away immediately. Sometimes one cannot even hear which song they are singing. I asked many older devotees about that circumstance and most of them have the same feelings as I do. When I visit one of my temples, I first send somebody to find all the wampers and gongs and hide them. I tell the devotees not to use them but some devotees, who were previously attached to the heavy metal music still like to play them. So it may be a relative point. I do not think Krsna is deaf. He does not need so much noise to hear what the devotees are singing. One has to judge the rules of music according to place, time and circumstance. We have some straight-edge or heavy metal musicians amongst our devotees. They make this music for Krsna. Most of them are actually very serious devotees and they simply utilize this tool for attracting friends from that scene.

When we talk about ragas, there are so many rules. I do not know much about them.

Nowadays there exists vaisnava music in practicaly all musical styles. Of course in our temple ceremonies we prefer soft and classical styles, but that is not a hard and fast rule. When I was temple president in Sao Paolo, a famous Brasilian musician, Ceatano Veloso, came sometimes to the temple to sing the kirtana in the Sunday feast, in samba rhythm. We want to preserve the classic styles, but there is also space for expanding into new areas of devotional music. Everything can be utilized for Krsna. I am very fond of singing bhajans in any local respective language. That is so helpful for the devotees to understand the real meaning of the message. I have been critisized for introducing this singing, but I checked with senior Gaudiya Vaisnavas and got approval from them, both Srila Sridhara Maharaja and Srila BP Puri Maharaja welcomed it.

Even for myself, the songs which I have been singing for 30 years become close to me when I sing them in the language which a commonly use. I am sure much more can be said about this topic. I can just report to you, that due to the approach of the Harmony School of Conscious Art, in Santiago, the capital of Chile, the devotees have eleven devotional music and art groups. And “Ahimsa all Stars” under the guidance of BV Damodara Maharaja have already won two prices from the city; so there are some very positive results. And Akarma Prabhu's song “I want to live” was choosen by the UNICEF as a song for life. There is a lot of advice coming from our tradition on how to play kartalas and mrdanga and how to dance on sankirtan, but that is a topic which is better to be organized locally and according to the musical capacity of the devotees involved. In general I would say, whatever music we make it should sound as good as possible. Singing of any type which makes people run away is not the best choice. Even in the Caitanya Caritamrta it was pointed out that there were some expert dancers and singers.

About Abortion

Question: When does human life begin? If it begins at conception, then is abortion wrong? If the soul does not enter the baby until it is born, then is abortion still wrong? What or where does the soul go if the baby is terminated? I am asking you these questions as my future-partner and I were discussing children, and he does not want children, and I do, and if I did become pregnant, he wanted me to have a termination. So, its been a very difficult time for me, as I am quite religious, and just wanted to know a little bit more about this issue. I am a vegetarian, and cannot think of eating flesh of any kind, so I cannot even comprehend killing something which is growing within me. But, as a Hindu, I need more answers. I hope you can help me.

Answer: Thank you very much for this question. It is a question that many young couples have to ask themselves and for which most of them do not find a satisfying answer in modern society.

The soul, the spirit, is very small. It enters into the father's sperm and it is injected in the mother's womb. Then the mother's ovum and the father's sperm unite and form a small body. This body only develops because the spirit soul is already there.

There are some very impressive documentaries that demonstrate the process of an abortion. It is a crime against the laws of nature, and the consequences for such actions are very strong. It is said that first men kill animals to eat them, then they kill children in the mother’s womb, and finally they even fight themselves on battlefields.

Family life is something very sacred. The responsibility of family life, of having and caring for a child and teaching it spiritual values, is very important and should be taken serious. Like in every form of community, we can also see that family life will only function nicely if we put God in the center. So I ask you to become exemplary parents who really love their children and give them the most prescious thing of all for their human lives, to show them the path of spiritual life.

The abortion of a child is like loosing the fortune of our life. The decision to kill a child will open many doors for misery. Women that have aborted a child confirm that they cannot forget the little creature that was killed by their decision. Actually we should appreciate being able to receive children in this world. So do not kill your unborn children.

Live itself is very precious, because it is always a gift from God. We must not put sense gratification or material values above the gift of live. If we listen to our heart, we will understand that we should give protection to our children and that we do not have the right to abort children.

Complete Surrender to Sri Krishna

Question: What is it that stops us from fully surrending to Krsna and how can we overcome it?

Answer: Our satisfaction with our proper mediocrity is what stops us from completely surrendering to the Lotos feet of the Lord. We always have to remain students, humble servants of the truth, because the quality of our service to Sri Krishna has no limits. An increase of the quality of our service will also increase the amount of service that there is to do. Our seperated interests, doubts and fears hinder us from full surrender. But Krsna himself promises in the Bhagavad Gita that we do not have to fear, He will protect us and give us everything we need. And Krsna shows us the way to approach Him: accepting a spiritual master, rendering service unto Him and following His instructions. We cannot do it alone, we have to accept the help and guidance of a spiritual master as well as the Vaisnavas. This will give us faith to follow the spiritual path with more sincerity.

Pure devotees are fully dependent on the will and mercy of the Lord. The eight verses of Lord Chaitanya Mahaprabhu's Sri Sri Siksastakam contain the essence of surrendering to Krishna; being humble and tolerant, giving respect to others, but not to expect respect from others, not to desire anything else than the engagement in the service of the Lord, chant the Holy Names of the Lord with all the profoundness of your heart, and to make yourself a slave to the will of the Lord.

Full surrender means to surrender with body, mind and words. The Bhagavad Gita tells us that our mind may be our friend, but can also be our enemy. This depends on our control over the mind. If we cannot control our mind, we will be dictated by lust, anger, avarice, illusion etc. But when we conquer our mind and when we are able to control it, one will be able to accept the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in our heart. There are nine kinds of devotional service that help us to surrender. The first two, and most important ones, are to hear and to talk or sing about the glories of the Lord. The daily engagement in hearing and chanting of the Lord will clean our consciousness.

Srila Prabhupada writes in the book 'The Teachings of Lord Chaitanya' that there are six basic guidelines for surrender.
The first is that one should accept everything that is favorable for the discharge of devotional service, and one should be determined to accept the process. The second is that one should give up everything that is unfavorable to the discharge of devotional service, and that one should be determined to give it all up. Thirdly, one should be convinced that only Krsna can protect him and should have full faith that the Lord will give that protection. An impersonalist thinks that his actual identity is in being one with Krsna, but a devotee does not destroy his identity in this way. He lives with full faith that Krsna will kindly protect him in all respects. Fourthly, a devotee should always accept Krsna as his maintainer. Those who are interested in the fruits of activities generally expect protection from the demigods, but a devotee of Krsna does not look to any demigod for protection. He is fully convinced that Krsna will protect him from all unfavorable circumstances. Fifth, a devotee is always conscious that his desires are not independent; unless Krsna fulfills them, they cannot be fulfilled. Lastly, one should always think of himself as the most fallen among souls so that Krsna will take care of him. Such a surrendered soul should take shelter of a holy place like Vrindavana, Mathura, Dvaraka, Mayapur, etc., and should surrender himself unto the Lord saying, "My Lord, from today I am Yours. You can protect me or kill me as You like."
A pure devotee takes shelter of Krsna in such a way, and Krsna is so grateful that He accepts him and gives him all kinds of protection.

Regaining Trust in Devotees

Question: How can one develop an intimate relationship with devotees after bad experiences? How to develop trust in them?

Answer: You are asking me a very tough question. A burned child shies away from the fire, but you make me remember one important instruction Srila Sridhara Maharaja gave to us, specificially to devotees whose initiating spiritual masters have abandoned their duty.

He said: “Never feel cheated by Krsna.” Consider it your bad karma that you had to go through such a painful situation, and simply pray to be able to learn something. Of course you can also understand that surrender to Krsna is not such an easy thing. You cannot take it for granted that everything works perfectly. But if you asked me 'who is trustworthy?', I would put it in a very few words. He must be a person who is trying to take the service to his spiritual master as his life and soul. He is somebody who will never get unreasonably angry with someone. He is not sectarian. He appreciates all vaisnavas. He has a desinterested nature and impartial judgement and a strong common sense. Those who do not take their relationship with Guru and Krsna very seriously, they will take their relation with you much less very seriously.

What to speak of spiriutal masters. Just to know how to choose one's friends, one should take all this in consideration. If they do something very wonderful and they invite you to participate then you can try it. If you do not choose anything then you have no good association and nothing nice to do. So there is always some risk in life and we are always depending on the grace of Krsna. By His grace we are eating and sleeping and by his guidance He will provide us with good association.

In my own life, after I lost my dear Srila Prabhupada, who gave me two initiations, I met another pure devotee, Srila B.R. Sridhara Dev Goswami Maharaja, who gave sannyasa to me. And after he went back to Krsna and the world surrounding me was submerged in sectarianism, I met another pure Devotee, Srila BP Puri Maharaja. He emphasized to me, that in front of Krsna all devotees are equal and that we should all work together on our common causes.

Srila B.P. Puri Maharaja became my siksa guru and the first president of the world vaisnava association. In my work as a secretary for the world vaisnava association, for the first five years of its existance, I had the mercy to get to know practically every Gaudiya acarya on the planet plus most of their leading disciples. I am very thankful for that experience. The more I know, the more grateful I am to have met Srila Prabhupada. Undoubtedly, there are many wonderful devotees in all missions, but still to meet those who are very advanced and who also have some skill of communication and understanding eastern and western Vaisnavas at the same time, such a person is rare to find.

I hope this information will give you something of value for your own search. I pray that you may be succesful to meet the most beautiful Vaisnavas and thus achieve happiness in your devotional service, because unless you achieve happiness, how will you be able to make others happy? Yogesavara, the master of all mystic powers ki jay.

Mexico, the new Frontier

Question: Mexico is our new frontier in the Vrinda mission. What is the plan or vision for Mexico?

Answer: Mexico is a very wonderful place for spreading Lord Chaitanya's grace. The nature of the people is that they are inclined to be very pious. Just like Srila Prabhupada used to say that the influence of the Latin culture has made the people somewhat pious. And we can see that in Mexico just like in Chile, Ecuador or Colombia. The general attitude towards India and the message of India is very favourable. People are welcoming the devotees and want to know about everything which they are doing and what they have to offer.

Now Mexico is so incredible because there are so many cities. It is such a large country, with every climate you can imagine, really a paradise, just missing Sri Krishna. One Mexican poet said: "Poor Mexicans, so far away from God and so close to the United States of America." So bringing Krishna to Mexico is a great joy. In the middle of the old city we established a very nice center, and we called it Prabhupada's Culture Center, hoping to inspire the same reaction as happened in many places of South America: that the message of Lord Chaitanya will go to every province and to all smaller places of Mexico. In a small scale that has already taken place. Some of our devotees are active in Puebla, some of them are active in Valle de Pravo, some of them are going to Vera Cruz and some others are in Texcoco and Vuanahuatu, Tepostlan. Wherever you go there is such a great chance. We can only imagine how wonderful the message of Lord Chaitanya will be celebrated in this country if more and more centres will start all around.

There are also some devotees in Cancun and Saldillo and I can see that Mexico will be one of the places where very large melas can be held. Because in South America there is something special. We can notice a certain perplexity which is like an inferiority complex and in some way, due to movies and the industry and whatever, the people are always looking to the North and not to the South. Somehow or other, to say it a little bit ironical: For Mexicans the world stops where Guatemala begins, for Guatemalans the world stops where Honduras begins, for Hondurans the world stops where Nicuaragua begins, and all the way down everybody is looking towards the North, towards the Hollywood culture. They are very frustrated and they cannot see how much of a great culture they themselves have. Provided they take up the real path of spirituality within their piousness. A living unity between their ancient tradition as well as some of their positive Christian attitudes, plus Lord Chaitanya's gift of the Holy Name and humility, can bring together a very beautiful synthesis of Latin American God consciousness. And I thinK Mexico, Central America and South America are the best breeding grounds for a new spiritual consciousness which we call Universal Love or All-embracing Love, 100% derived from the teachings of Lord Chaitanya, coinciding with all the sweet feelings of people inclined to the mode of goodness, who want to be helpful and who want to improve things in this world. So I look forward to see Mexico as a place where thousands and thousands of devotees will live.

Samskaras - Purificatory Rituals

Question: What do you think about Samskaras?

Answer: Accoring to Vamana dasa all samskaras are purificatory rituals which are great pretext to get everybody to chant the Holy Name of Sri Krsna. Without the chanting of the Holy Name, no ritual can be successful.

On the other side, I am surprised by your question, because the samskaras accompany a devotees' life from the first day – ceremonies such as First Grain, initiation, marriage etc. They are parts of our life and cannot even be thought away. I received these ceremonies by the grace of my spiriutual master and we are trying to keep them happily alive.

The highest goal of life is to chant the Holy Name purely and to become a pure devotee. All rules and regulations hint in that direction.